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Worth the spend?

More than three months ago, the Indian Premier League had created a storm with the amounts that players fetched at the first auction in February. What it also did was add a new yardstick to measure and compare player performance. Runs scored, averages, wickets taken, strike-rates etc were used to gauge player performance, but now the IPL franchises will be weighing those alongside the sums, in some cases astronomical, paid to the players. Cricinfo reviews how players fared in the 45-day tournament gone by.

Top performers
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was auctioned for US$1,500,000, while Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya and Yuvraj Singh earned over $1 million, but Shaun Marsh, a $30,000 signing, was the tournament's leading run-getter with 616 runs at a sizeable average of 68.44. Marsh took around $48 for every run he scored, while Dhoni's whopping price means his dollars per run scored works out to nearly 3623, more than 75 times that of Marsh's.

Shane Watson, whom Rajasthan Royals purchased for just $125,000, slots in at No. 4 in both the batting and bowling charts, and he rightfully won the Player of the Tournament award. Sohail Tanvir was another of Rajasthan's stars in the IPL, and his 22 wickets at 12.09 left him heads and shoulders above the rest of the bowlers. In total, Rajasthan spent only $225,000 on both Tanvir and Watson. The two picked up 39 wickets between them, not forgetting Watson's immense contribution with the bat and in the field. Tanvir took back $4545.45 for every wicket he took, while the corresponding number was over $50,000 for the likes of Irfan Pathan and RP Singh.

Icons and leaders
The IPL had demarcated 'icon' players for five cities; coincidentally, all five - Tendulkar [Mumbai Indians], Rahul Dravid [Bangalore Royal Challengers], Sourav Ganguly [Kolkata Knight Riders], Yuvraj Singh [Kings XI Punjab], Virender Sehwag [Delhi Daredevils] - happened to be batsmen. Icons received 15% more than the next-highest player in their franchise, but it was Sehwag, the lowest earner among them - he was the only one with a salary below $1m - who topped the run-scoring charts. Tendulkar's injury meant he missed half his side's matches, while Dravid and Ganguly were the leading run-scorers for the Bangalore Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders - the latter made some vital contributions with the ball as well.

All the five icons were also captains of their teams. The remaining three sides were led by Shane Warne [Rajasthan], Dhoni [Chennai Super Kings], and VVS Laxman [Deccan Chargers]. Harbhajan Singh and Shaun Pollock led Mumbai in the absence of Tendulkar. Laxman suffered an injury midway through the tournament, and Adam Gilchrist, the leading run-scorer among keepers, took up charge of Deccan, who finished at the bottom. Although iconless Deccan failed miserably, the other two teams without 'icons' made it the final, and Rajasthan, who prevailed in a pulsating final, were the only team whose first-choice captain was an overseas player.

How the other heavyweights fared
Andrew Symonds, the player who went for the second-highest price after Dhoni, was available for just four matches, and though he scored a blistering century against Rajasthan, his poor bowling cost Deccan the match. Ishant Sharma fetched a whopping $950,000 at the auction - the most for a bowler - as his performance Down Under was still fresh in memory, but he was completely lacklustre in the IPL, in which he took just seven wickets. That works out to a humongous $135,714.28 per wicket.

Jacques Kallis had been dropped from South Africa's side for the World Twenty20 last year, and his performances for Bangalore were hardly inspiring. Despite that he played most of the matches, probably because it would have hurt the pockets to rest a $900,000 signing. Mumbai lost Harbhajan, its $850,000 purchase to a slap, while Kolkata, who won Chris Gayle for $800,000, had to frustratingly watch as he warmed the bench with an injury before heading back to the West Indies.

Another $800,000 signing, Robin Uthappa, was largely unimpressive for Mumbai, and at times sloppy in the field, while Deccan's Herschelle Gibbs and Shahid Afridi were far from their best. Brendon McCullum and Kumar Sangakkara both justified their $700,000 price tags- McCullum's 158 to kickstart the IPL left one and all marvelling. Rajasthan, the least-expensive franchise, and the team which spent well below $4m [$5m was the upper limit for all teams], also found its costliest player, Mohammad Kaif at $675,000, scoring just 176 runs at 16 - perhaps they extracted his worth by playing him for all 16 games, utilising his handy presence in the field. Delhi's top three - Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan - were prolific but their middle-order signings - Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Karthik and Shoaib Malik - failed to fire consistently.

Aussie rules
While the IPL brought to the fore some of India's domestic players such as Yusuf Pathan, Manpreet Gony, Amit Mishra and Shikhar Dhawan, Australian players too flourished in the IPL. Seasoned pros such as Warne, Glenn McGrath, Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey were top-draw, Watson and Marsh excelled, and James Hopes, David Hussey, Simon Katich, Dominic Thornely and Luke Pomersbach did no harm to their prospects for next season.

However, there were also a few NPAs (non-performing Australians), top of the list being Ricky Ponting, who managed just 39 at 9.75, while Kolkata team-mate Brad Hodge didn't make an impression either. Cameron White and Luke Ronchi came to the IPL with a reputation for hard-hitting batting, but both had a humbling experience in India.

Best World Twenty20 players at the IPL
Last year Cricinfo had chosen a World Twenty20 XI, comprising the best players from the event in South Africa. Of the ten who played in the IPL, some like Gambhir and Hayden continued their good form in the shortest format, but Afridi, Player of the Tournament in South Africa, had an IPL to forget. Misbah-ul-Haq had used the World Twenty20 to force his way back into the Pakistan Test and ODI sides as well, but he didn't do too well in his stint with Bangalore. RP was a shadow of the menace he was on the seaming tracks in South Africa, and Yuvraj too was unable to find his sublime hitting form.

Young stars not shining bright
Players from India's Under-19 World Cup-winning side also were auctioned for prices ranging from $30,000-50,000. However, not many got a fair chance in the IPL. Of the lot, Ravindra Jadeja, who was bought by Rajasthan, played the most games - 14, while Virat Kohli, who had led the side, featured in 13 of Bangalore's 14. Left-arm fast bowler Pradeep Sangwan played seven for Delhi, but it was Bangalore's wicketkeeper-batsman Shreevats Goswami who won the prize for the best U-19 player, albeit he figured in just four games.

*Minimum price assumed due to non-availability of data
^Prices not available